The Little Red Dress

My favorite film in the world is a little critically-downtrodden piece of work from 2000 called Woman on Top. The film tells the tale of a Brazilian woman who has magical cooking skills, gifted to her by the sea goddess Yemanja. Her husband is a philandering machista, and when she finds him cheating, she finally leaves him and flees to San Francisco, where a myriad of whimsical hijinks ensue. Anyone on Rotten Tomatoes would say that it’s a ridiculous (and rotten) film, but hey, everyone’s a critic.

Red is one of my favorite colors. It’s the color of blood, the color of chili peppers, the color of fire. There’s something to be said about the power of red. As a child, I was very Catholic and believed that red was the devil’s color (I mean I saw the Loteria card and just assumed). Red also happens to be my aunt’s favorite color, and her entire bedroom was red, so I was legit scared to go in there as a kid. I mean think about it, while just a color, red is still seen as provocative. Little girls are chastised for to wanting to wear red; it’s too adult, too sexual, too everything. Naturally, it’s become one of my favorite colors.

In Woman on Top, color is key. It’s not my favorite movie because the dialogue is great or because the acting is incredible, but because of how it makes me feel. Heavy with blues and greens that revolve around its ocean theme, the protagonist Isabella appears in almost every shot in a red ensemble. She’s vibrant, she’s full of life and power and talent. Ever since I saw Woman on Top for the first time (which may have been back in 2006 or so I believe), I have wanted a little red dress.

I’m also a sucker for tropicalismo colorful goodness.

Everyone is always on about how a little black dress is a closet staple, and that you can wear it with anything, etc. I agree with that. I, too, have a little black dress and it is perfect for almost all occasions. But has anyone given thought to the idea of a little red dress? The perfect little red number, a deep, rich red, that would stop traffic and make my childhood self burst into spontaneous prayer.

Oh yeah, that’s what I want.

For years I’ve dreamed of this dress. A slinky, tight little number that I could wear scandalously to a party, or take out dancing, or throw down on an unsuspecting first date. My little red dress would be my go-to dress. And like Isabella I would command attention in it, in all of my vibrancy and life and power.

Simple yet eye-catching.

Finally, I decided to create it. Using the slip variation of Seamwork‘s Ariane bodysuit, I set out to create my little red dress. I had a chunk of jersey knit that I bought maybe 4 years ago, before I really knew much about sewing, in a rich red color that has been sitting in my fabric chest since. I knew that had to be the fabric I’d use, and as fate would have it, it was just enough material.

The body came together without a hitch. The cups, however, were an entirely different story.

Simple enough in their construction, for some reason they kept rippling at the seam where the cup and the body attached. Why? Why? WHY? Is what I continued to ask myself. It turns out that I had been pulling the fabric as I was sewing it, resulting in this overly stretching zig-zagged seam that wouldn’t lay flat no matter what I tried.



My overlock tension is fucked also, so yay for a night of 1,000 threads.

As a rule, I’m trying to learn when to step away from a project. I have the habit of wanting to start a project, get in the zone, and finish it in a timely manner (ideally a day). To do this, sometimes I cut corners, and usually end up regretting it later. I’m trying to break this habit, or at the very least, set the project aside and allow myself to rebuild the energy to tackle the problem the next day or so.

This project was no different. I had already sewn the baste stitch of the cups, attached them to the body, and sewn the clear elastic onto the seam allowance. All in overlapped zig-zag stitches. I sat down, put on a couple episodes of Felicity, and busted out the seam ripper. It took an entire evening to get them all out, and the next day, I (very gently) sewed the bust cups again. Success this time! End result?

I had to take in a little here and there on the sides of the cups, and this was my first time using fold over elastic (and also the hem stitch is so not even because the fabric kept wanting to do an Olympic dive into my bobbin casing, blahblahblah, endless stream of errors I could name), but all things considered, I am super pleased with it! This was the first time I’ve sewn with knits (?! right?!), and it was definitely an interesting learning experience! But I’m v proud. And I think Isabella would be too.

Additional support from Monica Jones and Watermelon Guy




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